Struggling with sleep can take a toll on your health – not to mention your mood! We all know that we should be getting 7-8 hours of sleep every night, but our busy lives often lessen the possibilities of getting this amount of rest. As sleep deprivation catches up to you or insomnia sets in, don’t immediately turn to medication.
Try the tips listed below and see if you can create nighttime routines that will result in better sleep!
1.) Don’t drink caffeine after noon
This can be a tough one – especially if your lunch tends to make you tired! If you are restless at night, stop saying, “I can drink coffee whenever I want and it doesn’t affect my sleep!” I always had a cup of coffee around 2:00 in the afternoon because I felt my body powering down into nap mode! However, I noticed that my sleep was increasingly restless. Once I stopped drinking coffee, my body no longer was reliant on the caffeine and I was able to find healthier ways to maintain my energy during the afternoon. At night, my body was able to properly power down and enter sleep-mode in a timely manner.
2.) Turn off the TV and put down your phone
Screens emit “blue light”, which triggers sleeplessness. Blue light suppresses melatonin, a hormone that controls your sleep and wake cycles. This increases your nighttime alertness and doesn’t allow you to get a regular night’s sleep. The end result: you become sleep deprived and end up with a permanent feeling of jet lag.
Consider creating a digital curfew for yourself. Try to turn off all electronics at least an hour before you go to bed, so your body can produce the melatonin necessary for good sleep. If you must use an electronic device, make sure to dim the brightness on your screen.
3.) Dim the lights around the house
Bright lights trigger our brains to stay alert and awake. Walk around and turn off all the main lights. Turn on a lamp or light a few candles – signaling to the brain that it is time to power down. (My personal favorite is candles).
4.) Stop exercising at night
In some people, evening exercise promotes good sleep, while in others it revs them up and disrupts their healthy sleep pattern. I use to exercise in the evening and always wondered why I couldn’t go to sleep. A little bit of research revealed that I should probably start exercising earlier in the day. Try to complete your workout at least 3 hours before going to bed. If the sleep disruption continues, consider moving your workout to the morning.
5.) Don’t lay awake in bed
If you find yourself lying awake in bed, frustrated that you cannot sleep, get out of bed and move to the living room. Lying awake in bed for prolonged periods of time will signal to your body that your bed is associated with wakefulness or anxiety. Move to another place and recline, while doing something you find relaxing (not using an electronic device.) Read a book or a magazine and wait for the feeling of drowsiness to come. Only then should you move back to your bed and go to sleep.
6.) Stick to a sleep schedule
Do you go to bed “when you feel like it?” You are doing your body a major disservice! Your body THRIVES on patterns and consistency.
Take this 2-week challenge! Go to bed at the same time every night and try to get 8 hours of sleep. See how your body responds to the extra rest and consistent sleep schedule. I guarantee that you will feel more rested!
7.) Try aromatherapy or essential oils
I am not a huge advocate for essential oils, however I do believe in the power of aromatherapy. I was struggling with my sleep, so a friend suggested that I use Young Living’s Peace & Calming essential oil blend to help me get to sleep. Within 15 minutes of diffusing the oils beside my bed, I was fast asleep. I couldn’t believe it!
Now if I cannot fall asleep, I diffuse lavender or the Peace and Calming blend to assist with the feeling of drowsiness.
8.) Write down what is worrying you
If you find yourself lying in bed worrying about something, get up and move to another location. Find some pen and paper, and start writing about the problem that is keeping you awake. Many therapists suggest keeping a journal to write your thoughts in, so you can clear your mind and focus on something else. Personally, reading or writing also tends to make me sleepy.
9.) Breathe deeply
During times of wakefulness, start breathing slowly and deeply through your nose; then exhale slowly through your mouth. Sleep deprivation and insomnia can cause stress and anxiety. Your body then releases a stress hormone, quickening your heartbeat and tightening your muscles, further preventing you from sleeping. Deep breathing causes the brain to release stress reducing endorphins – a “feel good” chemical. This relaxes your body and increases the likelihood of becoming drowsy.
10.) Set a bedtime alarm
I cannot tell you how many times I have lost track of time and stayed up until midnight! If you have this bad habit as well, you are losing several hours of valuable sleep. Set yourself a bedtime alarm that goes off every night at the exact same time and LISTEN TO IT! This will aid in keeping a strict sleep schedule and alerting you when you need to power down for the night.
11.) Drink some “sleepytime” tea
My favorite nighttime go-to is sleepy-time tea. Regardless of what tea is chosen, a warm, non-caffeinated beverage always tends to calm the nerves and relax our bodies. However, don’t drink so much tea that you will end up disrupting your sleep to use the restroom several times. My favorite choices are Yogi Soothing Caramel Bedtime Tea and Celestial Seasonings Sleepytime tea.
12.) Drown out the noise
If you are anything like me, you tend to find it difficult to sleep if there are random noises happening inside and outside the house. Several years ago, I started running a miniature fan beside my bed – a steady and predictable sound that would drown out the disruptive sounds of the night.
Sleep therapists recommend having a completely quiet room for optimal sleep. However, if you cannot condition the sound of your room, it is much better to control the sounds that are going on inside of it. Start turning on a noise machine or fan and allow your body to adjust to the sound. It may take you several weeks to adjust to the new noise, but it is a much better solution then lying awake for the unforeseeable future.
Mix and match a few of these routines to get the best sleep results! If you find something that works, make it a habit! Remember, our bodies love schedules! What nighttime routines do you use that work for you?
If you have any questions about this article, just let us know in the comment section below! We’d be happy to help you out!
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